Painting Space

  • Painting just objects without background is boring.
  • Consider the space in between painted objects filled with air.
  • And air is fill of energy!.
  • Atmospheric conditions give your paintings depth and create mood.
  • The emotional aspect of mood is what helps to sell your paintings.
Space is filled with energy.

A5 Watercolour: In the misty hilltops.

Just objects:

The general public sees things as objects, so it’s only natural that novices paint things as objects. And then when their endeavour doesn’t turnout as they hoped, they ask, “What is wrong with my painting? It looks childish. It doesn’t hold together some how! What’s missing?”

The environment between objects is important. It’s the condition of negative space between objects that controls the emotional impact of your paintings.

Negative space:

The space in between the objects is the environment in which the objects exist. How the negative space between the objects is painted is important.

  • The atmospheric condition within the space sets the mood of the painting.
  • The outline of objects fit like a jigsaw puzzle with the shapes of the negative areas. Consider: without the pieces of the negative space, the jigsaw picture is incomplete.
  • The outlines of the objects are the boundaries of the negative areas.

Filling open negative spaces:

Amateurs think every corner of a painting must be filled with something. For example, if there is an open space in the foreground, “Oh that area looks empty. I think I will fill it with a few rocks”.

Paintings shouldn’t be cluttered. If a painting is full of objects it becomes confusing, too much to absorb at one glance. There should be smooth open areas without detail so people can easily digest what is happening in the painting. What is important and what isn’t so important.

These open spaces are called `places of rest’:

Open uncluttered areas are restful compared with the dramatic impact of the main point of interest. Paintings are more appealing when there is about 20-45% open uncluttered spaces.

Energy of space:

When I say uncluttered, it doesn’t mean there is nothing there. The fact is space has atmosphere, and atmosphere is filled with energy. Consider radio wavelengths, etc that are in air! And how particles of dust make beautiful sunsets!

  • Energy and atmospheric depth is suggested by inter-blending soft washes of warm and cool colours.
  • Your paintings would be boring without atmospheric dimension. Atmospheric conditions give your paintings depth.

State of boundaries:

The state of these outline boundaries is important in the relationship between objects and their surroundings.

  • If objects have neat and clear contour edges, the object will stand out (alone) away from their background. Sharp contour edges drawn attention to the object. This is  partly done at the main point of interest.
  • If the outline of the objects are blurred and blend somewhat with its surroundings, the objects settle comfortably in their surroundings

Smooth transitions:

The melding relationship of the objects and their surroundings creates a smooth easy visual transition through your painting.

  • Gradation of colour and tone surrounding sharp-edged contours, eg: softening silhouettes with auras.
  • Radiation of auras around objects and within foliage pinholes against bight skies.
  • Dropping-in colours in previous washes, create blurred suggestions of things and colour variations of shadows.
That is what is so wonderful about watercolours. Watercolours make it possible to blend and merge colours and contours easily. You can create such gorgeous atmospheric vistas with watercolours, easier and better than any other medium. All it needs is a wet brush on wet paper. The amount of liquid depends on the effect you wish to create.

A lot about nothing:

Even though the open areas are non-descriptive, it can reveal out of focus objects, such as blurred grass and weeds blowing in the wind, suggestions of rocks and stones, etc. This type of out-of-focus area can be interesting, yet vague. The vagueness allows the eye to travel smoothly into and around the painting easily. Any detail and contrast there is, is there to catch, lead and direct the eye to the main point of interest.

Blurring of negative space.

A5 Watercolour: Flood of light through the mist.

Painting description:

The contrast of colours and temperature makes the painting exciting. The emphasis and contrast of tone is put on the trees and grass. In reality the basic format of the picture consists of only trees and grass! Even through the painting is filled with detail -the blurred areas counteract the busyness of the finer detail. The painting would have been even more complicated if a house, road or people had been added to the format.

MORE: You will find more on how to paint atmospheric watercolours on the page: Free art books. Just download the watercolour art book there, it’s a free download.

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